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Career Planning: Helping Your Child Take the Right Steps for Life Success

It is important for you, as a parent/guardian, to help your child think ahead and plan for their career. Below are resources that can assist your child with dreaming it, planning it, and making it happen for the future!

Starting conversations with your children about how their education is connected to their future is an important step in career planning. Below are some resources to help you start these conversations where your child can:

  • Discover careers beyond the ones they are familiar with
  • Connect what they are learning in school to real-world situations
  • Begin viewing themselves in an occupation
  • Develop work-readiness skills such as working in teams, making decisions, solving problems and being a leader
    • Find out what's going on with the world with “Did You Know 3.0.” This video can help get the conversation started and help your child begin to think where they see themselves in the future.
    • Career Awareness in Elementary School - America's Career Resource Network (ACRN) has advice on introducing conversations around career information to your child when they are young.
    • Search Bright Outlook Occupations - You and your child can explore the Occupational Information Network’s (O*NET) list of Bright Outlook occupations that are expected to grow rapidly in the next several years, have large numbers of job openings, and are new occupations.
    • Explore Various Green CareersLearn more about what a “Green” career is and all the possibilities these careers can bring to your child. Click on the link above and view the examples of Green careers in New York’s Green economy.
    • Career Plans for Students - The New York State Education Department (NYSED) provides children and parents with printable Career Plan worksheets appropriate for any grade level. The Career Plan helps map out your child's plan by asking, who am I?, where am I going?, and how do I get there?

Your children may have participated in career awareness activities like visiting the local fire station or the science museum. Career exploration takes these career awareness activities to the next level. Help your children begin to apply some of the things they have learned in school and daily activities through career exploration.

  • Assess Your Child's Interests - Start talking with your child about their interests. Then sit down with your child and have them complete the “Assess Yourself” tool on New York CareerZone to see how their interests connect to careers.
  • Research Information on over 800 Occupations on New York CareerZone. Have your children look at the different career clusters, skills, knowledge, education, and wages associated with the different occupations in the six career clusters.
  • Remember, your child’s education should help them prepare for the real world of work. Talk to your child about how their school subjects can connect to the a work setting.

  • Job Shadowing - For your child, spending a day with someone in a certain career could help them make decisions about their future careers. Use your networking skills to benefit your child! Ask people you know to allow your child to job shadow them and see if their career could help them make decisions about their future careers. Are you unsure who to call for help? Contact your local Chamber of Commerce to connect your child to a local business or organization.
  • Service Learning - Your child's school may offer service learning activities where students' classroom experiences are connected to opportunities in the community and help them build relationships. You can also find more information on service learning from Learn and Serve Clearinghouse and green service learning projects at the National Environmental Education Foundation.
  • Work Based Learning - Work Based Learning incorporates career exploration as part of the classroom while worksite learning happens, away from school, in a business or community organization. Not all schools provide work based learning opportunities. For more information on work based learning visit The New York State Education Department
  • Internships - Internships are a great opportunity for your child to preview an occupation. and gain work experience. Internships can help your child narrow down their career interests.
  • Career Fairs - Your child can attend career fairs in their schools or community to find out more about employment trends, local employers, and their career interests. Visit this link for career events across New York State.
  • Work Early, Work Often - This video highlights the important role parents and/or caregivers of youth with disabilities can play in work and work-based experiences for youth as they transition into adulthood.

Tools and Activities to Help You

  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) - STEM careers are growing fast. The Careers in STEM Factsheet can help you find resources to connect your child to STEM opportunities and learning.
  • Middle School - When there is a transition from different school levels, it can be difficult not only for your child, but for you and your family. Middle School: Movin' On Up gives information that you can go over with your child to prepare them for the work and expectations of a middle school student. You can also begin career exploration with your child by visiting CareerZone and saving career information to their Career Plan Portfolio. Be sure to select the correct grade level for your child's portfolio.
  • Middle School Matters is another resource that provides tips on how you can help your child plan for the future while they are in middle school.

After your children begin to understand what their interests are, it is time for them to start making decisions to develop their career plan. This is the stage where setting goals and planning will help your children reach their career goals.

Begin Setting Goals Today!

Start goal setting today using the CareerZone Portfolio Plan which allows your child to save their career goals and dreams to an electronic Career Plan Portfolio. After creating a CareerZone Portfolio Plan account or signing into your child’s existing Portfolio account, have them select the "Future Goals and Dreams" module.

Gather Important Paper Work Early

  • Working Papers – Did you know that minors under the age of 18 need to get papers from their school district stating they can work? This link connects you to the New York State Department of Labor’s information on how you can get working papers for your child and the labor laws for children in the workplace.
  • Social Security Cards – Not sure where you have placed your child's Social Security card? Find out how to replace it!
  • New York State Photo Identification - Find out how to get your child photo identification.

Know Your Child's Rights on the Job

Tools to Help You Through Transition

  • High School - Decisions, decisions! These next few years are important for your child as they make major decisions that impact their futures. On top of making these decisions, your child faces increased stresses of transition including new surroundings and people, more difficult school-work and the opportunity to make decisions on their own. Below are some resources that can help you make informed decisions over the next few years and help your child make an easy transition!
    • Job and Skills Training After High School - High school students can create a portfolio account to track their high school classes, volunteer, work and extracurricular activities as well as their goals and dreams. When creating a portfolio account, make sure your child selects the Commencement level that is for youth in grades 9-12.
    • New York State Afterschool Network – Connects young adults, parents, afterschool programs, and other partners that can help young people get involved afterschool and discover their interests at the same time.
    • The Parents Guide to High School – Provides information, tips, and resources for parents/guardians with students in high school. Topics range from social networking to high school class suggestions.
  • Life After High School – Your child has decided to attend job training, community college, a university, the military, apprenticeship or go straight to the workforce, but how are they handling the transition? Below are some resources that can help you and your child begin to think about their plans after high school or even change their future path.
    • Job and Skills Training After High School – Many people think The Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) provides education and job training only while your children are in high school. Think again! BOCES across New York State provide job training opportunities for young adults and adults ranging from Certified Nurse Aid Training to Carpentry/Weatherization for adults. To find out more, click on the link above to access the map to find the location nearest you!
    • College Navigator – College Navigator lets you search for colleges based on many different areas like location, financial aid options, type of degree, public, private, two or four year schools, and other factors that may be important to your child on their quest for college!
    • SUNY College Exploration - Want to find out what the State University of New York (SUNY) campus network can offer your child as a potential student? Explore community colleges and universities across New York State and make SUNY work for your child!
    • CUNY College Exploration - Did you know that New York City has a network of community colleges and four year colleges called The City University of New York (CUNY)? This website will provide you with information on the 23 campuses throughout New York City and what college suits your child's interests and career goals!
    • AmeriCorps - AmeriCorps is an opportunity for your child to apply their skills and ideals toward helping others and meeting critical needs in the community. Full-time corps members who complete their service earn an Education Award to pay for college, graduate school, or to pay back qualified student loans; members who serve part-time receive a partial Award. AmeriCorps members may also receive a modest living allowance during their term of service.
    • Job Corps - Job Corps offers career development services to at-risk young women and men, ages 16 to 24, to prepare them for successful careers.
    • Military Careers and Education - Find out how the military can provide career options and college assistance at this website. Research careers here and how the military can help build your child’s future!
    • Young Entrepreneurs - Has your child created a new project or thought about starting their own business? There are many young business people today that had to get started on their own. This website can help your child learn what it takes to go into business for them! Find out how to get an idea off the ground and even connect to a business owner that can provide some suggestions and guidance.

As your child continues to make decisions that affect his or her career, they can continue to build on their skills, education, experience and re-visit their career plan. Looking beyond college and job training programs is important to keep your child connected to their future goals and dreams.

Begin with What Your Child Already Has

  • Interests – This CareerZone tool allows your child to explore their interests and match them to occupations with a similar combination of interests. Have your child sign into their CareerZone Career Plan Portfolio and then select the "Interest Profiler" module.
  • Translate Your Child's Skills into Words – Your child has participated in work related activities, whether these are volunteer activities or part-time work experience. This link will connect you to the CareerZone Career Plan Portfolio where you can help your child translate work related skills to their résumé and explain in interviews. Have your child sign into their CareerZone Career Plan Portfolio and then select the "Job Readiness Skills" module.
  • Abilities Your Child Already Has – Your child may have natural abilities (a great memory or strong physical ability). These are important abilities to discuss with your child and how they can take advantage of these abilities in their future. Have your child sign into their CareerZone Career Plan Portfolio and then select the "Abilities" module.

Financial Planning for the Future

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – If college is in the near future for your child, find out how you and your child can pay for their future education from the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) website. In addition, you can use the FAFSA4caster tool to help calculate the financial aid your child would be eligible for. Click the link above and go the section "Thinking About College" and select the FAFSA4caster.
  • Loans, Grants, What's the Difference? – Find out what your options are when looking to send your child to college.
  • Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) Financial Information - HESC provides information for New York State students on a variety of New York State grant, scholarship and award programs to help pay for college.
  • Scholarships – Fastweb's scholarship matching tool will help your child find scholarships that they may qualify for. You will have to create a free account to access the tool.
  • Dollars and Sense Budgeting Tool – Have your child begin to create a budget around their lifestyle choices with the "Dollars and Sense" budgeting tool on CareerZone. Your child can also create a budget around the salaries of occupations they are interested in.

Before the Interview

  • CareerZone Résumé Builder – Organizing a résumé can be difficult, especially when your child may not have much experience. Let the CareerZone Résumé Builder guide you and your child through the process of adding work experience, activities, education and other sections to their résumé. Your child can develop multiple résumés and electronically save the document each time a change is made! Have your child sign into their CareerZone Career Plan Portfolio and then select the "Resume Builder" module.
  • Résumé Guide: A Step by Step Guide to Creating a Résumé – Learn about the different parts and types of résumés in order to produce the best résumé suited for your child’s interests and future opportunities.
  • Reference List – Many youth often struggle on a job application when they come to the section that asks for “References.” It is good for a young person to have a mix of references (family friends, former employers, volunteer supervisors, teachers, coaches). Have your child log into their CareerZone Career Plan Portfolio to access the "Reference List" module to begin gathering their references today.
  • Follow-Up Letters Matter! – In order to stand out to businesses, colleges, or networking groups, help your child make a follow-up letter thanking the business for the chance for a job interview. The follow-up letter helps the business remember who the youth was and also shows the youth cares about the job. This link provides an example of a follow-up letter.
  • Interview and Dress for Success Tips - First impressions are very important. Whether your child is applying for apprenticeship opportunities or a part-time job, it is important that they are confident in their interview skills and appearance. Use this resource for tips on how to help your child prepare for interviews. Also, show your child what they should and should not wear to an interview.
  • Get Your Child Work Ready (Find a NWRC test site near you!) - The National Work Readiness Credential (NWRC) is a national credential that tests entry-level job skills that businesses identified as many employees and potential employees were missing.

What Comes Next?

  • Selective Service – When a United States male resident turns 18, they have to register for Selective Service.
  • College Career Development Centers – If your child is enrolled in college/university, encourage them to visit their career development center provided at their school. The career development centers have job search and internship services, as well as résumé and cover letter review, workshops to assist academic performance, practice interviews, and employment recruiter events.
  • New York State Career Centers – The New York State Department of Labor has a network of career centers throughout New York State. These One Stop Career Centers can potentially assist your child with résumé development, job search, and job training programs.
  • Connect to Your Local Library – Find your local library with The New York State Public Library system. Libraries allow you to find information about events in your community that may help your child network with potential businesses. Public access to computers is also available.
  • Bring It All Together with a Career Plan - As your child fills out the different modules in the CareerZone portfolio, this information is collected in the CareerZone Career Plan. As your child grows and makes decisions, they can edit their Career Plan as they go. Have your child sign into their CareerZone Career Plan Portfolio to save career planning information.

Balancing it All

  • Help Your Child Relieve Stress – Tests, job search, financial planning...all of these are stressful for your child. This website provides tips on ways for your child to manage stress.
  • Your Child's Online Identity – Twitter, facebook, and other social media websites are on the rise. Does your child know that the pictures they post on these websites or their email usernames may affect their ability to get a job or get into college? Below are some links that can help your child put their best foot forward on the Internet.
    • Privacy settings for Facebook , Twitter , LinkedIn
    • Setting up e-mail accounts – Encourage your child to use a professional e-mail address. Discuss with them the difference of having an appropriate email (jane.doe@gmail.com) compared with an inappropriate email (jdizzybaby@gmail.com).
    • Cell-phones in the Work Place - Just like at the dinner table, some workplaces prohibit cell-phone usage during work. Discuss with your child how important it is that they follow this (and all) workplace rules, as well as how to contact them in case of an emergency. One more thing: encourage your child to have a professional voicemail, with their name and a typical brief message.

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